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Old Dec 9, 2006, 3:34 AM   #1
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This is not the first time I have found myself in discussion with 35mm purists yet the discussions always seem to go down similar paths . . .

The discussions typically go along these lines:
  • 35mm purist - digital does not require the same understanding of true photography;[/*]
  • Myview is that it does. Having transitioned from years of photography with a rather decent (Nikon 2020) 35mm to digital, I view both as recording instruments. Additionally, I find the learning curve with the digital similar to what I remember it being with the 35mm;[/*]
  • 35mm purist - you do not have the darkroom control and experience of developing your own negatives;[/*]
  • My view: Having never had a darkroom I have no 1st hand knowledge to adequately address this. From my simplistic view, utilizing PhotoShop and iMatch is both my "darkroom" and filing system. Since the storage and proper (legal) disposal of the developing chemicals is rather controlled, that makes believe they contain certain environmental hazards (no firsthand basis for this);[/*]
  • 35mm purist - digital is too easily used to produce what wasn't there where as 35mm is less so;[/*]
  • My view: There exist technologies enabling digital photographers to do customize many things from their digital files. To a certain extent you are doing the same with various developing techniques. I do not look at the use of PhotoShop to be an abuse but rather a tool to enhance and/or make mistakes. The latter is correctable so it allows me more freedoms.[/*]

  • [/*]
  • Debates are always nice yet the typical 35mm purist I have so far encountered relies on telling of their superior knowledge of their process.
Is there a reason that one way (digital vs. 35mm) is superior to the other or is it similar to debating the slide rule vs. the electronic calculator?
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Old Dec 9, 2006, 4:29 AM   #2
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My favourite summary of the subject.

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Old Dec 9, 2006, 4:37 AM   #3
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It's hard to believe there are still "purists" who refuse to believe digital photography has no merit. Sure there are some things digital still struggles with (dynamic range being the biggest issue), but as a whole has made photography more accessable to more people. With film, processing and developing costs add up very quickly (as does the cost of acquiring the film). This is even a bigger issue if you're talking about using pro film and pro labs. All the techniques and skills are the same....photoshop can't fix bad composition or technique (and neither can the darkroom), and most of the actions in photoshop were based on darkroom techniques. You still have to understand exposure and lighting. This argument is just old at this point. Some folks just cannot accept change.
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Old Dec 10, 2006, 12:46 PM   #4
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Another way that film is better is that the TTL flash metering can be by detecting the light reflecting off the film plane. I don't believe this can be done with digital cameras (at least, I've never heard of it.) The result is that you have to file a preflash and meter the scene during the pre-flash. If you do much "people" photography (which I don't) you find that people see the flash fire, think the picture is done and loose their expression. The picture isn't *done*, its just starting. And you miss many pictures this way.

Dynamic range (as said above) is also slightly better for *some* films. But not many. You really have to go to the top end pro-level films like Provia or Velvia f100 before you really start to rival digital. And that is only at the lowest ISO settings.

Black and white photography is a bit easier with film, but only because you don't have to learn good PS tricks (unless your camera has a good B&W mode.) Some ways of converting to B&W in PS will leave a slight color cast which is kinda ugly. And the good B&W films have HUGE dynamic ranges - way more than digital.

The 35mm purests are right that its easier to "Create" which wasn't there in photoshop. But when they say that I think they mean literally adding things to the picture. Like changing someone's head (I know of a wedding photographer who does this when the critical moment like the putting on of the ring is caught, but the bride's expression is wrong.) I can guarrentee you that Ansel Adams did things like remove telephone polls and wires from his negatives. He also enhanced the heck out of them by dodging, buring, increasing the contrast and more. So the purests had better accept that type of editing or they really don't know what is possible in a dark room.


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Old Dec 10, 2006, 8:45 PM   #5
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Daguerreotype, wet plate, dry plate, sheet film, roll film, digital. Each time a new process was introduced there were and are bitter arguments which was or is better. In each case the majority of photographers followed the path of least resistance and chose the more convenient method. Photography has survived and will survive again. Each process has its strengths and weaknesses and none can claim to be the definative answer to the creative needs of the photographer.

It is interesting to note that there are still practioners of the older processes although I think the daguerreotypists fudge the mercury vapour part these days!

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